Politically Incorrect Twitter Browsing Cost Suzhou TV Station Editor His Job

The Suzhou City Main Television Broadcasting Station in its administrative notice of April 4, 2019, announced that Zhu Chengzhuo had been removed from his post as Deputy Director of the All Media Editorial Center of the station. The administrative notice is translated below.

The PRC cyber noose continues to tighten as the Chinese Communist Party apparently is getting more worried about harmful information flooding into China from illegal websites outside the borders of the Mainland China. The administrative notice uses the expression “outside the border” 境外 which refers to the PRC excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan so I translated it as Mainland China.

Ten years ago, sharing harmful foreign information with other people in China could get Chinese into trouble but in general, browsing using the many kinds of virtual private network (VPN) software to penetrate the Great Red Firewall (despite the best efforts of the authorities to filter harmful information) did not get people into trouble. In times of exceptional tension, such as during the 2011 Pro-Democracy Protests (inspired by Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution,, some people were jailed for retweeting information about planned protests. In the years since, the cyber-noose has continued to tighten. According to a PRC court interpretation, people using domestic social media can get into trouble for “spreading rumors” if they share information that the authorities judge to be socially harmful and that posting is repeated by 500 people. Several Twitter accounts such as @airmovingdevice have been required to close recently by Chinese authorities.

The Weibo account (a Twitter-like social media for people inside Bamboo Curtain) of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Professor Yu Jianrong, a sometime advisor to the Chinese leadership on social issues, was recently suspended for ninety days. Yu doesn’t know why. Some suggest that the approach to the sensitive date of June 4th may be the reason. Yu’s last posting before suspension was about the iconoclastic theory of Hunan University Professor Du Jiangang that the English and the French (and indeed the English language) all originated in China’s Hunan Province. Professor Du was allowed to publish a book about his theory, so most likely Yu did not get in trouble for revealing that everything comes from China.

Zhu Chengzhuo’s Twitter account has apparently been closed. I didn’t see any direct trace of it. In a search on Twitter, I found some retweets of Zhu’s comments. He did say some things the Party doesn’t like. I wonder if his long term Twitter record going back ten years or so could have been the problem even if (I don’t really know) he has been more careful lately. Judging by some of the retweets, he has been interested in the maltreatment of Chinese political dissident and sympathetic to the people of Xinjiang.

Some examples (from retweets of Zhu’s tweets RT @zhuchengzhuo

2014: RT @zhuchengzhuo: 在内地的新闻业界,新疆绝对是个禁忌话题,每个人都是知道新疆要这样持续下去,肯定是越搞越乱,但是只要一提及新疆,普遍都有一种远在天边,事不关己的态,甚至个别人还热衷于王震当年的治疆手法。难道新疆真的就好不了了吗?”Xinjiang is a taboo topic for the news media in Mainland China. Everybody knows that if Xinjiang keeps going along the way that is has been, it will definitely get more and more chaotic. But if the topic of Xinjiang comes up, people act as it is as faraway as the high heavens and has nothing to do with us. Some people even enthusiastic about Wang Zhen’s old style way of governing Xinjiang. Could it really be true that things can never get better in Xinjiang?”

[Note: As for the Wang Zhen reference, take a look at this passage from the Wikipedia article on Wang Zhen
“Wang was head of the military government in Xinjiang from 1950 to 1952 and earned a reputation for brutality towards the native Uyghurs, writing to Mao Zedong that they were “a troublemaking minority” and suggested they be “thoroughly wiped out” to avoid any future problems. Mao apparently thought this too extreme, and Wang was redeployed, but Wang remains a folk-hero among Han Chinese settlers in Xinjiang to the present day, while Uyghur mothers in Xinjiang still warn their children to be good “or else Wang Zhen will come and get you.” ]

2013 — RT @zhuchengzhuo: 八九风波过后,知识分子中流传着两句话:“精神上不合作,话语上不抵抗”。 “Ever since the disturbances of 1989, Chinese intellectuals have been saying two things to one another: “Spiritually do not co-operate, in your words do not resist”

2013 — RT @zhuchengzhuo@degewa 他们会一直监视下去吗? (to the Tibetan writer Woeser “Do they monitor you all the time?”

I wonder if the attitude towards the Chinese Communist Party revealed in these postings may have been enough for the Public Security organs to act. Considering that the Party is getting ever more concerned about ideological conformity, the position of editor in a broadcasting station is an ideologically strategic one.

Nobody can say for sure. The Voice of America Chinese language website on April 10 carried a story about Zhu Chengzhuo‘s punishment for ideological non-conformity.

Chinese Text of the Suzhou City Main Television Station Notice on the Administrative Punishment of Zhu Chengzhuo for Ideological Offenses

About 高大伟 David Cowhig

Retired now, translated Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and studying some things. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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